15 October 2020, Windhoek Namibia. In 2018 Namdeb Diamond Corporation announced its intent to sell the Elizabeth Bay Mine situated in the Karas Region close to Lüderitz. The sale was initiated with the intent of acquiring a suitable entity to manage and maintain the mine that has been in production since 1911 and ensure that it would be operated economically.
In September 2019, after a conscientious, independently advised selection process was followed, Sperrgebiet Diamond Mining (Pty) Ltd (SDM) was selected as emptor for the sale of E-Bay. Today, they are proud to announce the finalization of this transaction, which will see E-Bay and its associated marine assets proudly fall under the ownership of SDM.
SDM is in the process of reviewing the condition of the asset before they will launch a refurbishment and care and maintenance program. They will also make use of this timeframe to execute a clean-up and salvaging campaign while readying the plant for commissioning towards the first quarter of 2021. Mining operations are set to resume at full capacity by the second quarter of 2021.
Sperrgebiet Diamond Mining (Pty) Ltd was established by Lewcor Holdings (Pty) Ltd, with Lewcor as the majority shareholder (75%), alongside two local shareholders (MSF Commercials and David Sheehama). A 5% share was allocated towards an Employee trust. SDM is, therefore, a 100% Namibian owned mine.
In his speech, one of the directors of Sperrgebiet, Zacky Nujoma, started by saying that the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and the Harambee Prosperity Plan reminds us that the mining sector is a major source of foreign direct investment in Namibia. However, the sector’s production is not large enough to allow processing, refinement, and further beneficiations to take place in Namibia at an economical level.
In response to the National government objectives, Zacky Nujoma added that, Sperrgebiet Diamonds would ensure that their operations align with NDP targets. The focus will be to intensify value addition to make the sector more profitable and resilient, to establish mining value chain activities, and also to promote industries that will produce mining inputs and services
He also stated that their commitment to this project would not only end at exploration, mining, and processing but will also look at investing in downstream value addition opportunities; such as collaboration with local jewelers, and this will attract more tourists to Lüderitz, which will, in turn, create job opportunities for the young people of this region.
General Manager of Sperrgebiet Diamond Mining, Paul Lombard, said they aim to embed a cost-effective and throughout-driven operational model with a fit for purpose structure with the mentality of optimizing each tonne of ore being processed through their facilities. He said the diamond resource, both onshore and offshore, remains with vast potential given the right strategic focus and organizational culture. Lombard indicated that SDM could only achieve this by collaborating with its employees, service providers, and stakeholders in their community and government. He finished by saying Sperrgebiet Diamond Mining is looking forward to rebuilding the once glittering diamond mining community.
Chris Lewis, the owner of Lewcor, thanked Namdeb for their corporation to ensure the sale had a smooth transition and that the handover of the mine was done in good spirit.
Speaking at the same event, Mr. Riaan Burger Chief Executive Officer of Namdeb in his key note addressed said “It is exactly 97 years since the mining license of Elizabeth Bay is being passed onto a new owner. Namdeb was very intentional in leaving the assets in good and trusting hands, a local Namibian business that is dedicated to Namibia and her people.” Burger further stated that although Namdeb is no longer mining in the town, they will continue to have presence through its Contract Treatment Facility (CTF) and will continue to contribute towards the socioeconomic development of the town of Lüderitz. Burger closed off by wishing the Sperrgebiet Mining the best with this new and exciting journey.
Over the years, the community of Lüderitz has gained more than just employment from E-Bay; it has also played a pivotal role in everyone’s livelihoods’ continued stability in the historic town by providing over 200 job opportunities. SDM will continue, as it has since its inception, to proactively identify community-based improvement, upliftment, and supporting projects aimed to provide a holistic contribution to every person of the Lüderitz community.
Furthermore, they have also pledged to safeguard more than just the people they interact with, with historic sites such as the Kolmanskop Ghost Town (and many other historical sites), which now lies within the acquired site. The value of this location cannot be overlooked. It plays a vital role in attracting tourists from far and wide to visit the region, once again creating a sustainable and reliable income for the people of the town.
This venture will not only grow the local economy of Lüderitz; it will also support the stabilization of the larger Namibian economy, which has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year. SDM is confident that this venture will continue to build on the proud history of mining and miners in the area.
As a closure, Paul Lombard mentioned that a crucial phase of Sperrgebiet’s journey would be to finalize their route to market and close out on their finance drive by end of the year. This phase will include an outreach to both international and local debt or equity financiers to invest in this new venture and grow future partnerships in and outside the borders of Namibia.
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